January 19, 2021 13:41
President Moon Jae-in's New Year's press conferences are always the same. There are typically no answers to questions in which people are genuinely interested, while the comments he does make sound like he is reading from a script someone from an alternative reality wrote for him. This year, Moon hailed Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's attempt to lynch Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl as a "healthy exercise of democracy." Everyone knows the president set Choo on Yoon, and that her increasingly desperate bending of rules was intended to halt investigations that were getting uncomfortably close to Moon and his cronies. But Moon talked about it as if he had merely been a benign observer.
Apparently he does not think the probe of Yoon was "politically motivated." After spending almost a year trying to drive Yoon out of office, Moon even took credit for Yoon's unexpected popularity, describing him as "the government's prosecutor-general," as if they had somehow weathered a robust challenge together. All the while, ruling-party lawmakers joined hands to attack the head of the Board of Audit and Inspection for probing a dubious feasibility study that laid the groundwork for shutting down Korea's second-oldest nuclear reactor as part of Moon's nuclear phaseout. Public servants shamelessly tried to deceive auditors by destroying around 400 pages of documents, which is a criminal offense. But Moon insisted that he had nothing to do with any of this and it was at any rate all done "by the book."
About the suicide of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon after the exposure of endemic sexual harassment at City Hall, Moon remarked only that it was "regrettable." It got worse when he turned to the ruling party's volte face after previously pledging not to field a replacement candidate if misconduct by anyone from its own ranks prompts any by-election. Indeed, the ruling party is fielding candidates not only in Seoul, but in Busan as well, where another Minjoo Party stalwart quit over a sexual harassment scandal. "Nothing is written in stone," the president remarked blandly. Then he blamed the previous administration for the housing shortage and, rather than admitting the total failure of his own government's real-estate policies, pointed the finger at low interest rates and an increase in the number of households for skyrocketing apartment prices.
Next came the North Korea aria. In Moon's parallel universe, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a "clear will" to scrap his nuclear weapons, which is apparently why he is building up his arsenal like a madman, and South Korea has a full range of defensive systems to thwart any North Korean missile attack. Moon also reiterated his gaffe from late last year, that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden should "start off again" from the Singapore agreement signed by Kim Jong-un and lame-duck President Donald Trump in 2018, which Moon considers an "achievement" by his orange friend but which achieved precisely nothing.
An impromptu question about the tragedy of a baby girl who died after horrific abuse by her adoptive parents completely floored him. "We need measures where adoptions can be canceled or adopted children be changed in case of a mismatch," he babbled, "since adoptive parents could change their minds." As if children were consumer goods that could be exchanged for a refund. But all that was only the preamble to the biggest doozy. Korea failed miserably to get hold of timely supplies of coronavirus vaccines while Moon frittered away his time on his personal vendetta against the prosecutor-general. Yet on Monday he said he has "no regrets" about the delay. Why not? Because "there are also many similar cases in other countries."
In his first New Year's press conference in 2018, Moon touted the success of his income-led economic growth and job-creation policies. Income inequality had of course grown and jobs been lost. The next year, he claimed no laws were broken when Cheong Wa Dae mobilized a team of auditors and meddled in the appointments of key officials. Last year, he demanded that the public respect his authority after he reassigned prosecutors who were not kowtowing to him to remote posts. Year after year, Moon tells the nation that he has done nothing wrong, his way is the only way, and everything is coming up roses. Nothing has changed and nothing will change under this deadbeat president.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com